The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a process that considers how a proposed development will change existing environmental conditions and what the consequences of such changes will be. It therefore informs both the project design and decision-making processes.
The findings of the EIA are presented in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which forms part of the application. The main topics assessed will be:
- Landscape and Visual Amenity
- Archaeology and Cultural Heritage
- Traffic and Transport
- Geology and Peat
- Socio-economics, Recreation and Tourism
- Climate Change and Carbon Balance
- Aviation and telecommunications
The EIAR will provide an assessment of the likely significant effects of the proposed development against the existing environmental baseline conditions and if required propose mitigation measures to manage and minimise potential effects.
Submission of the Application and EIAR to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU)
As the proposed Development exceeds 50MW, we will apply for the permission under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. We will therefore be submitting our application to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU) and the application will ultimately be determined by Scottish Ministers.
Once the application has been submitted it will be advertised in national and local newspapers, the advert will include details of where to view the application documents and how to provide comments to the ECU. The application documents will be available on our project website as well as the ECU website. The consultation period allows 4 weeks for the public to comment and submit responses to the ECU on the application.
Consultation and Determination Process
The ECU will consult a wide range of statutory and non-statutory consultees including the Highland Council and their responses will be taken into consideration in determination of the application. The Scottish Ministers will determine the application following completion of the consultation exercise and full consideration of the EIAR.
Environmental Impact Assessment Topics
1. Landscape and Visual Amenity
The Landscape and Visual Assessment (LVIA) is being carried out by Chartered Landscape Architects at LUC (Land Use Consultants) in accordance with the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment . The assessment will describe the landscape and visual effects resulting from the wind farm and identify which of these are significant in the context of the EIA Regulations.
The assessment will consider potential impacts arising from the Development on landscape character types, designated landscapes and wild land, and views and visual amenity experienced from settlements, properties and public routes (including footpaths and roads) located within the 40 km radius Study Area from the Development. To aid this assessment a Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV), wirelines and photomontages are produced.
The ZTV is based on a turbine height of 149.9m from a viewing height of 2m above ground level. The terrain model assumes bare ground and is derived from Ordnance Survey Terrain data (obtained from Ordnance Survey in July 2019). The location of the assessed viewpoints are also shown included on the ZTV map.
Click on the map below to take a closer look.
The ZTV illustrates the comparative extent of visibility of the existing Corriegarth Windfarm (tip height 120m) only, Corriegarth 2 Windfarm (tip height 149.9m) only and the areas from which both would be seen at the same location. Visibility is shown to a distance of 40km from the outermost turbines in all directions.
Click on the map below to take a closer look.
The representative viewpoint locations include:
- Small settlements located within Stratherrick
- Promoted trails and walking routes within the Study Area, including the Great Glen Way, South Loch Ness Trail and National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 78
- Popular hill summits within the Study Area, including Meall Fuar-mhonaidh and hill summits within the Monadhliath Mountains; and
- Roads including the B862 and A82.
Wirelines and Photomontages have been produced for a selection of viewpoints, these can be viewed by clicking on each of the tabs below.
Viewpoint 1: Gorthleck
This viewpoint is located on the B862 at the southern edge of the small settlement of Gorthleck. The viewpoint is representative of views looking south-east experienced by road users and similar views experienced from nearby residential properties and the Stratherrick Public Hall at Gorthleck. Wind turbines of the operational Corriegarth Wind Farm are screened by intervening landform in views to the south-east.
Viewpoint 3: B862 West of Corriegarth Lodge
Located on the B862 to the north of the junction with the B852, west of Corriegarth Lodge, this viewpoint is representative of views to the south-east experienced by road users on the minor road through Stratherrick. The existing Corriegarth Wind Farm turbines are seen in existing views from this location. The existing substation is seen on the slopes of Carn na Saobhaidhe (602 m AOD) in views to the south-east, partially backed by intervening landform.
Viewpoint 5: Errogie
Located on the B862 on the north-western shore of Loch Mhor near the small hamlet of Errogie, this viewpoint is representative of views to the south experienced by road users travelling on the B862 and nearby residential receptors within the small scattered settlement of Errogie. Wind turbine blade tips of the operational Corriegarth Wind Farm are seen against the skyline in views south beyond the intervening landform of Beinn Mheadhoin (555 m AOD).
Viewpoint 7: General Wade’s Military Road, Suidhe
This viewpoint is located on General Wade’s Military Road (B862) near the promoted Suidhe viewpoint and stopping area. A short path extending approximately 600 m to the west, south-west of this location leads to the craggy summit of Carn an t-Suidhe and is a popular walk for visitors stopping at the viewpoint. The viewpoint represents views experienced by road users, tourists, and recreational receptors on National Cycle Network Route 78, within the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig Special Landscape Area.
The existing Corriegarth Wind Farm turbines are seen in a dip between landform to the south of Beinn Mheadhoin (540 m AOD) in views to the north-east.
Viewpoint 11: Meall Fuar-mhonaidh
This viewpoint is located on the eastern cairn at the summit of the distinguishable local hill of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh (699 m AOD). The popular hill summit is located within the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig SLA, offering panoramic views across and along the Great Glen experienced by hill walkers. Wind turbines of the operational Corriegarth Wind Farm are seen in longer-distance views to the south-east from this location, with the nearby operational wind farms of Dunmaglass and Stronelairg evident to the north and south respectively.
In accordance with consultation responses received from the Highland Council and SNH, the LVIA will also include assessment of effects on the landscape character of the area, designated landscapes and wild land areas, including the Loch Ness and Duntelchaig Special Landscape Area, the Cairngorms National Park and the Monadhliath Wild Land Area.
As well as assessing the potential landscape and visual effects arising from the Development, the LVIA will also consider cumulative landscape and visual effects, arising from the addition of the wind farm to a baseline which includes other existing and proposed wind farms, including most notably the existing Corriegarth Wind Farm and focusing on developments that are likely to give rise to significant cumulative effects. The cumulative assessment will therefore concentrate on operational, consented and proposed developments located within 40 km of the outermost wind turbines of the Development.
Arcus Consultancy Services Ltd (Arcus) are carrying out the ecological assessment of the potential impacts on the flora and fauna on site and the surrounding area. The assessment will focus on the potential effects of direct and indirect impacts during construction, operation and decommissioning of the Development.
To inform the ecological assessment, and sufficiently avoid or mitigate any predicted effects, habitat, protected species, bat and fish habitat surveys have been undertaken on site. The ecological assessment will include:
- Direct and indirect habitat loss and disturbance (temporary and permanent loss of terrestrial or aquatic habitats, including sensitive or protected habitats such as peat).
- Turbine-related bat mortality (death or injury to bats by collision with the turbine blades).
- Direct and indirect effects on protected fauna (otter, pine marten, water vole, badger, red squirrel and wildcat).
The Site is dominated by peatland habitat including blanket bog, wet heath & wet modified bog, although the surveys have indicate that the majority of these habitats are degraded. Very low levels of bat activity have been recorded and badger and otter resting areas noted. Mitigation measures will be included in the EIA to avoid and reduce effects on these species.
Ornithological surveys of the existing Corriegarth Windfarm commenced in 2012 and have been on-going during operation of the windfarm. This data has been supplemented with additional surveys for the proposed turbines carried out in 2019. The surveys have recorded the presence of a number of species, including raptors and divers.
The main potential impacts which will be assessed are habitat loss and disturbance to breeding and non-breeding birds during the construction period; displacement around turbines and/or collision risks during the operational period; and cumulative effects associated with the proposed development when considered alongside the existing Corriegarth turbines and other wind farms in the area.
4. Archaeology and cultural heritage
Archaeologists from Arcus will consider direct, indirect, and cumulative effects on archaeology and cultural heritage. This will include the consideration of the following:
- Nationally designated assets including World Heritage Sites, Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings, Inventoried Gardens and Designed Landscapes, Inventoried Battlefields and Conservation Areas
- Undesignated assets (including above and below ground assets) as recorded by the local Historic Environment Record (HER), cartographic record, photographic record, or identified through the walkover survey
- The potential for currently unknown (buried) archaeological remains to exist within the Development
Undesignated archaeology within the Site boundary, largely found along the River E, will be avoided and not affected by the construction of the wind farm. Heritage assets, such as Scheduled Monuments and Listed Buildings, are generally located at lower elevations, focused around the lochs and watercourses and none are located within the Site boundary.
Desk based studies, site walkover and consultation with The Highland Council and Historic Environment Scotland have identified seven Scheduled Monuments and 38 Listed Buildings of all grades within 10km of the site. The nearest Scheduled Monument is Dell Farm, located 7.5km northwest of the closest turbine. The nearest Listed Buildings are the Grade B listed house, Boleskine Old Manse (LB1848), located 7km northwest of the closest turbine, and Grade B listed house, Garthbeg (LB1883), located 5.5km to the northwest of the closest turbine. All heritage assets within 10 km will be assessed for potential changes in setting as a result of the wind farm within the EIA Report.
The noise assessment, being carried out by Arcus, will include both construction and operational activities of the windfarm and include noise from existing windfarms in the area. The turbines are located well away from any residential dwelling with the nearest house being approximately 3 km from the turbines.
Windfarm noise in Scotland is assessed in accordance with ETSU-R-97 “The Assessment and Rating of Noise from Wind Farms” and the associated Good Practice Guide published by the Institute of Acoustics. The Highland Council Environmental Health Officer has confirmed the assessment should be carried out in accordance with these documents and has set target noise levels for both the windfarm as a standalone development and cumulatively with the existing Corriegarth Windfarm and other nearby, operational sites.
6. Traffic and transport
The potential effects of increased traffic on the surrounding road networks will be considered within the Environmental Impact Assessment Report.
It is proposed that the access to the site for both abnormal loads (carrying the turbine components) and conventional HGV traffic will follow the same route as the operational Corriegarth Windfarm. Starting from Inverness vehicles will head south along the A9 before turning right onto the B851 and travelling south west to join the B862, through Gorthleck and Statherrick and then turning left onto the single track road towards the existing site entrance.
A Traffic Management Plan will be developed outlining proposed access routes, traffic management measures and details of advance warning for abnormal loads and abnormal load management. In particular as traffic will pass through Stratherrick all traffic management and routing measures will be discussed in advance with the Community Liaison Group.
Any requirement for road workings such as widening or removing street furniture will be agreed with The Highland Council and communicated through the Community Liaison Group.
Click on the map below to see the construction phase route to the site.
7. Geology and hydrology
Arcus has carried out a site survey to establish the extent and depth of the peat on site, this information will inform the site design and layout process and wherever possible areas of deep peat will be avoided.
The site lies in the upper catchments of the River E and River Foyer. Turbines will not be located within 50m of any watercourse and during construction a Pollution Prevention
Plan will be drawn up setting out measures to be put in place to control and minimise runoff from the site and in particular to prevent pollution of any surface or groundwaters. The design of all watercourse crossings will require prior approval by SEPA and will be designed to avoid increasing the risk of flooding and minimise ecological impacts.
The MOD has stated that they have no concerns about the windfarm development, consultation is ongoing with respect to provision of low intensity or infrared lighting. It is not expected that lighting will be required.
Consultation with the operators of Inverness Airport, Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) is on-going with respect to potential impact on the Airports radar. In the event that the turbines are predicted to be picked up by the Inverness Airport radar well established mitigation solutions are available and an agreement will be put in place with the Airport to enable such mitigation over the operational life of the windfarm.
9. Socio-economics, recreation and tourism
The assessment of socio-economics and tourism & recreation will identify the effects, both adverse and beneficial, of the wind farm development. During the key stages of the development including construction, operation, and decommissioning, it is proposed that the socio-economic resource of the local area will see beneficial effects associated with the economic opportunities of the wind farm development.
The local area is very popular with both international and UK tourists exploring the natural environment and making use of well-established tourism/recreational activities. Within the EIA Report, an assessment of tourism & recreation will identify all sensitive tourism and recreational receptors and identify the potential effects of the wind farm development on these receptors.
Tourist attractions in the local area include Loch Ness, Castle Urquhart, General Wades Road, Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal, Cairngorms National Park as well as many popular walking routes including the regionally important South Loch Ness Trail.
We have identified 14 Core Paths within 5km of the site, the closest being the ‘Garthbeg to Errogie, south side of Loch Mhor’ which is adjacent to the northern side of the Site Boundary. The potential for impact on tourism is closely linked to public perception of those visiting the area. In 2011, as part of their policy update, VisitScotland commissioned research to learn more about UK consumer attitudes to wind farms. The survey was largely attitudinal based and according to the results, wind farms do not have any significant impacts on the levels of tourism.
VisitScotland published a Position Statement in 2014 which stated:
“VisitScotland understands and supports the drive for renewable energy and recognises the economic potential of Scotland’s vast resource, including the opportunities for wind farm development… There is a mutually supportive relationship between renewable energy developments and sustainable tourism.”
10. Climate change and carbon balance
A number of climatic changes are associated with the effects of climate change:
- Increase in global temperature
- Changes in the frequency, intensity and distribution of rainfall events
- Increase storms
- Sea level rise
The Scottish Government has set a target of delivering the equivalent of 100% of our electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. Generating electricity from renewable sources is one of the best tools we have to combating climate change. As we increase the proportion of renewable electricity in Scotland it gradually reduces the need to generate electricity from fossil fuels, reducing Scotland’s overall carbon emissions (Scottish Renewables, 2020).
Burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas, releases carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. The assessment included in the EIA Report will identify the current baseline with respect to these greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel electricity generators using data from the UK Government, operational sites, and experience of other similar developments. This information will provide the baseline information against which the contribution of the Development to reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be assessed.
The EIA Report will include a calculation of the carbon payback period. The carbon payback estimates how long it will take a renewable energy project to offset the greenhouse gases emitted as a result of its construction (the “carbon cost”), for example creating the components and use of concrete in the base, and begin displacing electricity generated from non-renewable sources (“the carbon saving”). This allows us to estimate how long a wind farm needs to be operational for before it repays its own initial carbon impact.
The carbon calculator also calculates the carbon savings. This is calculated by multiplying the total amount of electricity generated by the windfarm per year by the number of tonnes of carbon which fossil fuels would have produced to generate the same amount of electricity.
Working with the community
Throughout the life of the project, we are committed to fully engaging with members of the local community. To date we have met with the Stratherrick & Foyers Community Council and will continue to update them on the project as we progress.
If you would like to receive updates on the project by email or letter please leave your contact details here.
We expect to submit the application and EIAR to the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit (ECU) during the summer. Once the application has been submitted there will be a consultation period for four weeks for public comments to be made and submitted to the ECU.
Your opinions are important to us and we would be grateful if you could take a moment to complete our short survey.
Your comments will be taken into account wherever possible in the ongoing development process leading up to the formal planning application submission.
If you would like further information or wish to provide feedback, please contact us